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Rachel Reeves MP, Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in a letter to George Osborne on today's PAC report on HMRC's relationship with large companies, said:
"I am extremely concerned by today’s report by the Public Accounts Committee on HMRC’s relationship with large companies. At a time when families and businesses are being squeezed, they will be shocked to hear that there is £25 billion of outstanding tax which has not been collected from large companies.
"The tax system must not only be fair, but be seen to be fair. There must be a transparent process for reaching tax settlements with large companies, and full accountability to the Public Accounts Committee. The fact that evidence to the Committee by officials was imprecise, inconsistent, and potentially misleading, raises serious concerns about the running of HMRC. Officials are answerable to Parliament, not to large companies and if the Government has nothing to hide then it should immediately disclose the information requested by the Committee about corporate taxpayers. Will you do so?
"The Committee reports that HMRC was unable to point to a statutory bar on disclosure of information about specific cases, and that the withholding of information was a policy decision. If so, Ministers should change their policy. But if statutory bars to transparency do exist then we will support legislation which removes them, while protecting individual taxpayers.
"All taxpayers should be treated equally. There should not be special treatment for large companies at the expense of small businesses and individual taxpayers. Ministers appear to have failed to ensure that HMRC complied with its own processes, resulting in a substantial amount of money being lost to the Exchequer. Will you take immediate steps to make the process for reaching settlements more transparent, and to ensure that HMRC does follow that process?
"I hope you will treat the report with the urgency and importance it deserves and I look forward to your response before Christmas.
"For your information this letter has been released to the media."